Melbourne’s much loved Hamer Hall came out of her bandages to great fanfare after some extensive surgery last year. The patient’s crinolined modesty was once firmly pinned down. With her back to the river, she ignored the commerce of the city across the Yarra and only greeted the genteel folk arriving shiny and pearled from the leafy suburbs to the south.
So how does her newly stretched and exposed body fare with her public? With her skirts now hitched up high – she is laid open to the mere passer by. Her interior I can’t speak fondly of. Her stylist was too desperate to bring an old girl ‘up to date’ with chrome, mirror and polish – when we were fond of her patina, her rubbed down brass.
Outside she can now at least dance. She can-cans at the city – her concrete encased lift shaft raises a Picasso arm in a mock flamenco. Her new toothy smile reflects the ice cream eaters, the cyclists, the backpackers.
Her garter belt of cafes edging the river promenade still signal that she is not so easily conquered – there is a discrete requirement to wait to be seated. She still has mind enough to shoo away seekers of snacks and soft drinks.
Just as you leave to consider all this modernity, she shows a petticoat of a beautifully crafted brise soleil. Her delicate and feminine side, in the shadows of the spotted gums, shows she still has some of the sobriety and decorum which made us love her.